Anti-Texting Law to Take Effect March 8 in Pennsylvania. This new law makes texting as your driving a primary violation, meaning you can be stopped JUST for texting as you drive.
The big issue is what constitutes texting in Pennsylvania? In the PennDOT press release, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan explains it that his officers will "attempt to use observations of the driver while the vehicle is in motion to determine if traffic stops are warranted" but any motion can be used to claim texting while driving. The much harder job will be proving that you were NOT texting. I understand and agree with the need for such a law, I am only concerned about how best to enforce this law.
I do not know exactly how the Pennsylvania DMV will handle these reports. Will they be considered moving violations? Will they be recorded on your driving record or cause other un-intended side effects to your drivers license? Only time will tell. Just remember that after March 8th, if you are driving in Pennsylvania, do not look like you are texting or you take the chance of being pulled over.
Harrisburg – Pennsylvania's new law prohibiting text-based communication while driving will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 8, making texting while driving a primary offense carrying a $50 fine.
"Your most important job when behind the wheel is to focus only on driving.
Most people would never close their eyes for five seconds while driving, but that's how long you take your eyes of the road, or even longer, every time you send or read a text message," PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. "It's not just your own life you're risking; it's the lives and safety of every motorist around you."
The new law specifically does the following:
- Makes it a primary offense to use an Interactive Wireless Communication
- Device (IWCD) to send, read or write a text-based message.
- Defines an IWCD as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smartphone, portable or mobile computer or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the Internet.
- Defines a text-based message as a text message, instant message, email or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD.
- Institutes a $50 fine for convictions.
- Makes clear that this law supersedes and preempts any local ordinances restricting the use of interactive wireless devices by drivers.
"This is a serious problem and we are hoping that we can educate citizens on the dangers of texting while driving and prevent future accidents," said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. "Our troopers will attempt to use observations of the driver while the vehicle is in motion to determine if traffic stops are warranted.
An example might be the motorist continues to manipulate the device over an extended distance with no apparent voice communication.
"Ultimately, we hope that our enforcement efforts will create voluntary compliance by the majority of motorists," Noonan said.
In 2010, there were nearly 14,000 crashes in Pennsylvania where distracted driving played a role, with 68 people dying in those crashes.